Learning to Dive in Paradise

Trip Start May 27, 2009
Trip End Dec 22, 2009

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Coconut Tree Divers

Flag of Honduras  , Bay Islands,
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wed May 27
The trip is finally here! Early start on Wed morning when we drove from Edmonton to Calgary to catch our flight. We spent the night in Houston and then we were back at the airport nice and early for our flight to Roatan, Honduras.

Thur May 28
Once we made it to the island we tried to figure out the buses to the town of West End. The persuasive cabies ended up winning, but we at least managed to get them down to a third of the asking price. They took us across the island to West End which is basically one sandy street along a gorgeous, picture perfect bay. We dropped off our bags at Valarie's Hostel, whose dorm reminds me of a treehouse, for the first night and set out to find a beer and some island lunch. Found a nice place by the water and had a grilled fish, rice, salad and fried plantain plate and Kalin had some rice and shrimp, along with a bottle of Salva Vida (Honduran beer) each, paradise found!

We spent the rest of the day getting our diving sorted and swimming in the bay. At night there was a power outage, luckily we missed the earthquake the night before. We spent the night chilling at the hostel in hammocks and around the flashlight. Not the best beds, but the place and the people were awesome.

Fri May 29
Today Kalin and I started our open water diving course. Neither of us slept very well last night and I was up at 5:50 and couldn't fall back asleep, so I went for a morning swim. Beautiful way to start the day! Even if it is a lot earlier than I would like it to start! Once I was back and ready, our first stop was at the Baleado stand for breakfast. Baleado's are fresh tortillas with fillings. My breakfast one was chicken, cheese, avocado, egg and refried beans. Yum! We moved our bags to the dive shops dorm and then spent the morning learning the classroom stuff for the first three chapters.

Break for a quick lunch of chicken, rice and beans and then we went into the bay for some practice and skill training in shallow water. I can't wait to go in open water! At the end of the dive day, we had a couple beers on the dive shop patio and then grabbed some tacos and tostados for dinner.

Sat May 30
Same start today with the first stop being the Baleado stand, refried beans and cheese this time, before going to the dive shop for a bit more practice in the bay.

In the afternoon we went on our first proper dive! It was amazing! Within the first 10 minutes we saw a nurse shark swimming by about 3 feet from my flippers!!!! So awesome! The rest of the dive was over the reef, just checking out the fishies. On the second dive of the afternoon we saw a hawksbill turtle, a cero, a huge grouper and a massive lobster hiding in the coral. I am really starting to like this diving thing!!

After the boat was back in, it was time again for some beers on the patio. Then me and Kalin grabbed some dinner at an amazing place called Tongs where that had tables out on the dock behind the restaurant. It was a bit expensive, but we split a Masamasa curry (never had it before, but so good!) and with the view from our table at the end of the dock it was definitely worth it!

Tonight I saw my first cockroach ever running across the floor! It seemed harmless enough and once I was told that unlike the couple geckos we sometimes see on the walls and running across the ceiling, these guys can't leave the floor, I felt fine sharing my room with them. Might feel different next time though if there are more of them...

Sun May 31
Another Baleado with the works for breakfast (I'm getting seriously addicted to these, they are yummy, filling and best of all, cheap!) before another morning in the classroom. One more quick bean and cheese Baleado for lunch and then we were on the boat for two more dives this afternoon.

On the first dive we had some of the skills that we had to do in the open water, so after that it was only a shorter swim around. It was still great though, we saw a giant crab and swam along the edge of the reef for a bit, going to our deepest yet (60ft). The second dive though was I think the best yet. i know everyone wants to see sharks, and that was awesome, but I love turtles! A hawksbill turtle came right by us and I was able to turn around and swim with it for a while. It was the coolest feeling in the world!! We also went through our first little swim through and saw a juvenile spotted drum and some jawfish popping their heads out of the sand.

Kalin, me and the three girls from Quebec in our room (2 were in the course with us) wrote our Open Water Divers test and then decided to have some beers after to celebrate. A quick piece of pizza with some others from the dive shop and then we went for some poker and drinks. Out of three tables, I made it down to the final two players, I was pretty proud of myself! Too bad I didn't win. Once the games were over, we went to a wicked bar on a rooftop that had a little dock with a wading area, it was awesome! The power went out again, so we all piled back in the truck and went to a place with a generator for one more drink before the 5 of us walked back down the sandy street to our cabin.

Mon June 1
With our course down, we could finally sleep in today (and after last night, it was welcome!) Once we got moving, we set off to Rudys Restaurant for some of the famous banana pancakes. We caught a water taxi to West Bay and spent the afternoon there. I spent most of the time playing in the water and snorkeling while the other 4 were suntanning and swimming. It was such an awesome afternoon in a beautiful bay. Unfortunately the sun got through my 2 coats of SPF 45 and I sunburnt my whole back when I was snorkeling.

We caught a taxi back to West End and after a shower we went to the noodle house for dinner. They had some fresh tuna that was caught that morning, so I had some avocado and tuna sushi rolls. I think it might have been the best sushi I have ever eaten! We walked through the town for a bit and then it was back to our cabin. Such an awesome, relaxing day.

Tue June 2
A quick bean and cheese baleado (of course) and then I started the Advanced Open Water Course this morning. Kalin opted for some beach time so it is me and three American guys today. Our first dive was to a sunken ship and it was brilliant!! We went down to 110ft at one point and swam around and through the ship. We even swam into a little room on the ship and out through a hole on the floor to the main deck. On the way back up we were able to swim with a massive school of bright blue creole wrasse. I'm hooked now!

The second dive of the morning was to work on our buoyancy so we had to go through hoops and stay hoovering in the same place while we were handed weights. We also went through the hoops backwards and learned how to stand on our heads hovering underwater :) We then swam along the edge of the reef, down to 90ft and back through a canyon in the coral to our starting spot.

I met Kalin once the boat was back, we  said goodbye to our roomies from Quebec who were leaving the island and then went for some rotisserie chicken, coconut rice and beans and big couscous like(but bigger) pasta salad for lunch. She headed for the beach and thanks to my sunburnt back, I thought this would be a good time stay out of the midday sun and get caught up on the Internet stuff.

A bit more school stuff and then we headed out for my first night dive!! Kalin came with me on this one. I was a bit nervous at first, but it was awesome. It was so weird being down there at night. We had flashlights and then moon was pretty bright but it was still pretty dark. It was so cool, I noticed way more noises around me than I do in the day time. We saw some lobsters and even a baby octopus! I think I prefer diving in the day time, but I am so glad I went and I would definitely go again.

Back at the shop we had a beer while cleaning off the gear and filling in our log books before making our way over to Sundowners for a few more beers. When that closed at ten we found another place down the road that was over the water. Another power outage, but this bar was prepared and instead of closing down like the one the other night, the set candles out everywhere and kept serving the Salava Vida, pineapple juice & rum and free shots of vodka & grenadine!

Wed June 3
Once again the first stop this morning was for a Baleado, very much needed after last night! With that taken care it was back to the dive shop. The first dive today was the Deep Dive I needed for my Advanced open water certification. Even though the one yesterday was deeper (100ft today and 110ft yesterday), it counted as a wreck dive and not a deep dive. Kalin came with me for this dive. Under the water our instructor Pete cracked an egg to show us the pressure at 100ft. You could hold the yoke, give it a little squeeze and it still didnt break. We had to actually pull it apart to break the yoke. He also showed us the color change at depths (red is the first color to go) by bringing a red marker lid down. The lid was blue under water. No I know why the ocean is blue, the other colors get lost at depth and the blue shows through! We saw a big school of horse eye jacks, 2 giant trevalli, permit fish, a big baracuda, more spotlight parrot fish (finally Lent there name, I think these are my favorite!) and a couple gorgeous queen angel fish. Coming up it was a bit of a drift dive again, like when we came up from the wreck. This time I felt a bit more in control so just enjoyed letting the current do the work for me!

The second dive of the morning (and my final one for my advanced certification) was a Navigation dive. This one was just me, Pete (instructor) and Kristin (Dive Master Trainee). I had to do some compass work under water and then we went for a little swim. Along the way Pete was pointing out landmarks for me to try and remember. Saw some more of the same fish, spotlight parrot fish, Sergent majors and even a school of Blue Tangs. At the end of the swim, Pete told me to find the boat using natural navigation. I shocked myself (and I'm pretty sure him too) when I found it! It was so different being the one at the front, you can't see the others unless you look backwards so it just feels like it's you and the ocean. Amazing feeling!

Back on land we grabbed some burgers under the thatched awning at the Purple Turtle. Thumbs up for the fresh fish fillet burger! We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging around town. Had some awesome pizza at Shark Cave and then had a quiet night.

Thur June 4
Early start this morning to try and get Diving with the Dolphins sorted. We had hoped we would be able to go this morning, but it ended up being full. Had to call back at eleven so we set off to kill a couple hours in paradise. Grabbed a baleado, checked emails quickly and then walked back along the beach for lunch. Had a bowl of Conch soup (so good, almost like a curry soup!) and a tuna and basil burger at Lighthouse on a patio overlooking the bay.

Back at the dive shop we were able to get confirmed for the 8:30am dive with the dolphins tomorrow, yeah!!! With that taken care of we grabbed some snorkel gear and headed for the beach. This time I followed the great advice of wearing a tshirt in the water so that I wouldn't burn my back again! Found some rock with some fan corals on it and tons of fish around. It was great! After an hour or so with the fishes, I went back to shower.

By then it was almost 4:30 so went to the dive shop for patio beers once again. From there we headed to Sundowners again and made some new friends. After it closed at ten we set off for Jammin, the bar over the water, but got lured in to Le Bistro across the street for Kareoke night. Thankfully for all involved, I did not sing. Because of the Karaoke though, I think it was the busiest place in town.

Friday June 5
No the best start today, last night the beers were going down a little too well, but that was quickly remedied when I remembered that we were going diving with the dolphins!! We went to the dive shop to pick up our bundles of equipment and then headed to Anthony's Key Resort in Sandy Bay. The dive was not cheap, but we had been saving for this one as one of the big splurges and man was it worth it! It started off with a little show while we sat on a platform in the dolphin containment. After seeing a few of the tricks, we went out on the boat and dived down. It was so amazing! It was just like a normal dive with coral around the sides and lots of fish, but 2 of the dolphins were free in the area and would come and swim along with us, leave, come back, swim in between us. AWESOME!!! At the end we knelt in the sand and they both came down and were swimming in and out of us, all around, diving down over our heads, everything! It was such a cool experience to be kneeling on the sand at 60ft and petting dolphins as they swam by!!

Back in West End, I grabbed yet another Bale ado (Beef and Beans) for lunch and then took a desperately needed nap :) Got up and got ready and went to find Kalin. I found her back on the beach again, covered in sandfly bites. They are so bad here that her back looks like it's polka dotted! Since I hadn't eaten much, I grabbed another Baleado (Beef, Beans and Avocado) and then we went to the dive shop to sort out our tabs and say goodbye to everyone. Now we are using a bit of Internet time since we paid and unlimited for a week price and then going for dinner in half an hour. Two other girls in our room have reserved a booth on the beach. Should be sweet!!

In the morning we are leaving on the 7am ferry (fingers crossed all goes well) for La Ceiba on the mainland. I am going to be so sad to leave here, it feels like home now! The place is so small, that we already know where almost everything is and every time you walk down the street you see someone you know. Despite the mystery bites (two of which have turned into massive bruises on my legs), I am going to miss it here! I am pretty sure I will be back one day!!!

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